The Four Seasons in Limassol, Cyprus has been open since 1993 and is independently owned and operated by Muskita Hotels Ltd. It’s a Five Star deluxe property with 304 rooms, 6 restaurants, 4 bars, and extensive conference facilities, Shiseido Spa, a full range of sports and fitness facilities and a shopping area with exclusive boutiques, watches and jewelry. The Hotel is situated on its own sandy beach, which has been awarded with the Blue Flag (a symbol of cleanliness and safety awarded by the European Community) and is 8 kilometers East of Limassol city center.
The Four Seasons’ management is constantly looking for effective ways to build strong relations with its customers and optimize sales programs. The Hotel’s website is its important marketing tool that helps the property to attract and retain elite guests from all over the World.
Mr. Nick Aristou, the property’s Executive Director, decided to enhance the website with an online business chat solution. “Our objective was to make it easy for our customers to navigate the website,” says Mr. Aristou. “Also, we wanted to convert as many visitors into customers as possible by making it easy for them to complete bookings.”
Mr. Aristou, who has a strong technology background, did a thorough review of available products, including such market leaders as LivePerson. However, none of them matched Four Season’s specific needs. The main limitations were the lack of multilingual support, patchy compatibility with tablet users and absence of robust archival features.
Then Mr. Aristou came across LiveWebAssist, a chat solution deployed on the IceWarp site, and realized it was the perfect match. He decided to try it out on the Four Season’s site, but then found out it was not the final release yet. Still, Mr. Aristou went ahead and launched LiveWebAssist at Four Seasons’ webpage, assigning three operators to interact with customers.
From the very beginning, the Four Season’s customer service team was making the most of LiveWebAssist’s multilingual interface and Knowledgebase support features to interact with customers in English, Greek and Russian.. The property’s sales and marketing team started to see LiveWebAssist’s effect almost immediately – the bookings increased.
“LiveWebAssist contributed a lot to this on many occasions,” says Mr. Aristou. “Our analysis showed that customers booked because they were given real-time explanations through the chat service.”
Four Season’s technology team also liked LiveWebAssist’s capability to recognize returning Website visitors.
“The excellent feature helps an operator to resume the conversation from the same spot where it was ended or interrupted,” says Mr. Aristou. “That makes users spend on average 7-8 minutes on the site, a very high indicator.”
In an approach radically different form other chat products, LiveWebAsisst supports the InLine no-flash chat architecture, eliminating pop-up windows. This design allows more visitors to initiate chat sessions, because they don’t have to deal with popup blockers and assures usability for visitors from tablets like iPad or Android.
Additionally, this option gives actionable information about the visitors’ behavior.
“The operators can tell exactly where the user is on the site, so they can offer them immediate assistance, tell them where to go and answer questions with a high degree of relevancy,” says Mr. Aristou. “It’s a very useful feature.”
LiveWebAssist’s analytical capabilities helped the hotel to optimize its Internet marketing strategy.
“LiveWebAssist analytics capabilities are very good,” notes Mr. Aristou. “They are helping us to locate sources our customers are coming from. It’s a very effective tool, especially when used in conjunction with Google analytics.”
Another feature Four Seasons’ team found practical is LiveWebAssist Knowledgebase. At any point of the conversation, it allows to insert pre-approved messages (such as terms and conditions, cancellation policy, etc.) as well as URLs and graphics with a single click.
“It has been very useful, we have almost three pages of knowledgebase content now,” notes Mr. Aristou. “The option provides more professional outlook and helps to standardize responses. Operators don’t have to think about how to phrase them. In the near future, we are planning to extend the knowledgebase with images and, possibly, videos.”
According to Four Seasons’ technology team estimates, the training and ramp-up process was painless.
“The functionality of the program is simple, anybody who can use a social chat program can get accustomed to LiveWebAssist very easily,” notes Mr. Aristou.
For the support function, Four Seasons team used LiveWebAssist Direct Chat Technology, the VIP connection that gives dedicated access to key IceWarp support personnel. This option makes it possible to reach the important contacts no matter where they are – at their desktop, off-site, or on the road.
“The VIP link option has been very useful, and IceWarp support team was very prompt,” says Mr. Aristou.
Four Seasons is now planning to expand LiveWebAssist functionality.
“We are considered using it on mobile devices, and, possibly, integrating the solution with a new CRM system,” says Mr. Aristou.
In the future, the property is thinking about hiring more operators and starting to use LiveWebAssist automated translation functionality.
According to Mr. Aristou’s estimates, LiveWebAssist was showing compelling ROI from the day it was implemented.
“Just from my own observation, from the number of bookings that have been converted directly through LiveWebAssist, I can say that it has paid for itself almost immediately” says Mr. Aristou he would definitely recommend LiveWebAssist to other organizations in the hospitality industry.
“Selling hotel rooms is always a complex matter,” says Mr. Aristou. “Usually, hotel bookings for five+ star hotels are a very high-value item. It’s not a $10-20 purchase from Amazon. They are usually $5,000-6,000 per transactionand there are many issues for potential customers to understand before they actually commit to book. Anything that can give a customer greater confidence and prompt him to make a decision to buy is very valuable. LiveWebAssist gives us exactly that.”
Bank of Melbourne is set to beef up its mobile banking app with a feature that promises to reduce the time it takes customers to get their queries resolved.
The bank's "Connect" feature can reduce the average call resolution time, which Bank of Melbourne chief executive Scott Tanner said put the bank ahead of the local competition.
The secret sauce is the preexisting authentication channel baked into the app. Customers are already securely identified through fingerprint technology or a four-digit password, so there's no need for them to answer a series of security questions when they speak to a customer service specialist. The bank's chief information officer, Dhiren Kulkarni, said eliminating the need for customers to identify themselves could save up to two minutes a call. That may not seem like much, but in the contact centre environment every second counts.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is setting up strict quality parameters for state governments for running call centres under the Nationwide Emergency Response System and has come out with a detailed guideline. The proposed emergency number is likely to be operational next year and the government hopes that it would benefit women in distress.
At present, India has three emergency services 100 (Police), 102 (Fire) and 103 (Ambulance), which were designed at the time of a regulated telecom sector with only one telecom provider across India. As per the guidelines, the number of calls not attended by emergency vehicle should be less than five per cent of the total distress calls. MHA has said that it is expecting five hundred thousand calls per day in the first year of operation while it is expected to double in the next five years.
The ministry is expecting an increase in number of calls to the call centre by 10 per cent every six months, according to the guidelines. The average satisfaction score of citizens collected through feedback calls, text messages and other means should be more than 85 per cent while no caller should have to wait endlessly for response to their call.
New research from the UK's leading contact centre magazine Call Centre Helper, run in partnership with NewVoiceMedia, reveals that nearly half of industry professionals (44%) name 'IT issues' as a key barrier to running an effective contact centre.
The survey, which asked over 600 members of the contact centre industry ‘what barriers stop you from running your dream contact centre?' also found that budget (67%), the need for new technology (40%) and technology not being joined up (35%), are all responsible for restricting progress in the contact centre.
When asked what they would change, the majority of respondents commented on the need for basic working computer systems and demanded upgrades to the latest technologies. One participant commented, "New solutions are required to remove the need for legacy systems, processes and workarounds", while another remarked, "I'd like us to adopt better technology, so that advisers have one place to go for a complete customer view and can access all required data in one place".
Jonty Pearce, Editor of Call Centre Helper, comments, "Customer service has changed beyond recognition in recent years, putting an increasing amount of pressure on agents to handle more complex queries and master digital channels (such as webchat). It is unfair to expect agents to deal with slow computer systems as well. While contact centres are beginning to wake up to the benefits of maintaining good computer systems, there is still some way to go before this becomes industry standard".
Jonathan Gale, CEO of NewVoiceMedia, a global provider of cloud technology which helps businesses sell more, serve better and grow faster, adds, "It's surprising that IT issues are a barrier to so many businesses running a great contact centre. Cloud technology offers a cost-effective solution to businesses of all sizes, meaning they can make the most of their CRM investment and serve better to accelerate growth and stay ahead of the competition".
Sponsored by NewVoiceMedia, The Call Centre Helper Report offers a compelling view of the contact centre; from their fundamental framework, to widely used initiatives and the technologies that have made it on to every manager's wish list.